8 Questions with an Educational Consultant

8 QUESTIONS is a series of interviews with teachers who have effectively transitioned their classroom skills into new and exciting careers in the field of education. We at Teach.com believe that teaching is a rigorous and diverse classroom in and of itself; the skills learned “in the trenches” can translate into an exciting portfolio of professional options. From education tech to consulting, the only “X factor” is where you want to go — our interviews hope to shine a light on the steps it takes to get there.

1. What’s your name, location, current profession?

Stephanie McConnell from Pittsburg, a small town in East Texas. Currently, I'm an educational consultant for my business Principal Principles. I provide training to resources to aspiring and current school leaders. This is my first year not on a campus as an administrator. Working from home and at remote locations is still very new to me.

2. Where did you earn your teaching certification and where did you go to school?

I attended the University of Texas for my Bachelors and Texas A&M University for my Masters in Educational Administration. I have a degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood.

3. How long were you a teacher for?

I have been in education for 19 years. 8 years as a teacher and 11 years as an administrator. Ten of the years as an assistant principal and principal of an elementary school.

4. What was the most rewarding part of being a classroom teacher? What about classroom teaching did you find most challenging?

The most rewarding part of being a classroom teacher was the opportunity to watch my students learn. It is so rewarding to see student growth from the beginning of the year to the end. Many would enter the classroom not knowing how to read or write their name but, would leave at the end of the year reading, simple sentences or able to write short stories, and the ability to problem solve in math.

5. Why did you decide to transition from classroom teaching to your current profession?

I have a passion for leadership. My other passion is connected through this leadership position which is the desire to add value to those I serve. Being a principal is about service. I hope that my service as a school leader brings value to those on my campus- students, teachers, and my community.

In a principal position, I can impact a larger group of students than as a teacher. I believe in order to have the best school possible for our students it starts with the school’s leader. If I want to have an amazing school experience for my students, I must be the very best I can be. Through school leadership, I can help transform schools into great places to be for students and the staff.

Being a school principal is very rewarding. It is a very difficult position but one that I love!

6. What is the best part of your job?

Without a doubt, I am loving the opportunity to help other school leaders. It is very rewarding to assist other leaders just beginning their position, as well as, future aspiring school leaders. The most challenging part of this new adventure is making sure I provide value to the people and schools that I serve. I want to make sure I fulfill their needs. I get great feedback so I feel certain I am making a contribution to them. I hope to continue to make an even bigger impact as the year continues.

7. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel in your current profession?

The skills that I had entering the position have changed over time. I think as we grow year-to-year our skill set should change. I already had the skills of hard work, organization, decisiveness, and a strong problem-solver. However, over time, I began to develop the skills of self-confidence, team building, and analysis. With school leadership, these three areas are necessary and critical. My favorite topics have been born because of team-building and analysis. For analysis, I love data-driven instruction. I have a passion for using data to make decisions. My second love is team building. Team building will boost morale and it will increase the success of your school.

8. What advice would you offer a current teacher who is looking to make a career change to outside of the classroom?

I have had the opportunity to mentor some teachers who are or were considering school leadership. My advice is and will always be “go for it!” We need more strong educators in this position. When entering the position, always remember what it was like as a teacher. Never ask your teachers to do something you would never do. Keep a positive mindset and treat your staff like family. Build positive relationships with those you serve. I have learned over the years you cannot do this position alone. Empower those on your campus to lead.

Stephanie from Principal Principles has been a school leader for over 10 years.  As of this year, Stephanie works with schools as an educational consultant.  She is passionate about transforming how we lead schools. Her goal is to equip school leaders with the tools they need to be successful.    Stephanie loves to speak on Strategies to Improve Student Achievement and other topics such as Motivating and Inspiring Teachers and Mentoring for Aspiring Leaders.  Through her blog, Principal Principles, she has been able to share her passion with school leaders all over the world.  Stephanie was named Top 10 Principal in Texas in 2014.  She has also received The Distinguished Educator Award in 2015.  In her spare time, she loves to spend quality time with her family and friends.